“He who has found his life will loose it, and he who has
lost his life for My sake will find it”
Life: The condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to the environment through changes originating internally.
Dictionary.com went on to give several more definitions of the word, 35 actually, and scientifically speaking I suppose that the definition above is correct. However, I don’t believe that this definition is truly what many human beings would describe as life. So I pose this question to you; What is life?
To many humans life would immediately be described as indescribable, but when pressed many would eventually give an answer. An answer that would more than likely include the following; friendships, the people they love, their significant others, family, money, cars, cell phones, school, parties, fun, houses, computers, their jobs, or the many things that they do everyday. But is this truly the only meaning of our existence, to go on day by day doing the same thing with some variation on the norm? Some people may go a lifetime without even questioning why they feel driven to do the things they do, or feel the things they feel. I know I didn’t.
Looking back, even if it’s not very far, I would say that I have lived a pretty great life. Even if I have had a few rough spots, got caught in a few snags, it’s been a pretty great ride. All my life I’ve had a family that has always loved me, which starting off is more than many can say. I have a car, paid for and insured by my parents, a cell phone (again paid for by my parents), good enough grades to make the Dean’s list more than once, amazing friends that love me and that I can call in the middle of the night asking for help and they would simply ask where I was and would be on their way. Not to mention that I had, in the midst of my freshman year of college, found Christ, or He had lead me to Him I should say. I was happy, or so I thought.
Until recently I had been taking the easy way in my walk with Christ. Sure my relationship with Him would get rocky every other month (or week), but I was growing and maturing. Then at the beginning of my sophomore year my discipler, Kate, confronted me about my relationship with my Dad. But before I get into what she said let me make some things clear: 1. I love my dad 2. I know that he has done the best that he possibly could to raise me 3. I respect him (those three words have taken years for me to understand and mean) 4. He loves me, and will always do what he feels right by me. Now that you may understand those things, understand this; loving him in the right way is the hardest thing I have ever attempted to accomplish. He is stubborn, infantile, and manipulative (all traits I now have in my own personality).
In a nutshell what Kate told me was this; I was letting my father’s manipulation and my relationship with him come between me and Christ. At first I was furious, who was she to judge my relationship with my dad? After I calmed down, I saw that she was right. Unfortunately at that point I was too afraid to do anything about it. I was attached to those things, those inanimate things that made my life comfortable. I am used to living a life where I don’t have to try very hard and yet things still come to me. I didn’t want to create dysfunction in my life and risk losing those things that meant so much to me. I guess losing my family didn’t occur to me, I knew that they loved me in a way that meant they wouldn’t alienate themselves from me. But that didn’t stop me from using that as an excuse to not put the Lord first in my life. I was afraid and that fear stopped me from doing what I needed to do in order to grow in my spiritual walk and mature into the woman that the Lord intends me to become.
This summer I came home for my last summer away from the body. I came home prepared to make the most of it, but per usual when I do things without the Lord all of my plans fell flat. I withdrew from the Lord and became depressed, only surfacing when I had the opportunity to be around the body in Kent. I became extremely self-focused, and unfortunately many of my relationships suffered. Kate came to my family’s reunion on Lake Tipsico for a few days, and it was amazing to be able to spend time with my best friend without worrying about a time limit. She helped me realize how self focused I had become, and how lonely I truly was without the Lord. A week after we had left the lake, I was able to go to Kent for a few days to spend time with the body. Kate and I were at breakfast when she told me that I would no longer be discipling one of my closest friends. It wasn’t that I had done something wrong (although it took a few days to really believe this), it was that I had taught her all that I could teach her. This realization really hit home for me. I was unable to disciple her because I had given her all I had learned. And the reason I had only learned so much was because I had been stopped by my fear. I had stopped truly trying to have a victorious relationship with my father, and this had stopped me from growing.
Without realizing it, I began the process of having a victorious relationship with my dad over XSI. He tried to make me go home that first night because he believed I hadn’t been communicating properly and taking care of my business when it came to the moving process that I was in the middle of. During the conversation he mentioned that I could stay at XSI if it wasn’t convenient for me to come home, which was his way of attempting to manipulate me into coming home. But I took him at his word and didn’t go home that night, instead I stayed with the body and had a blast. The next night I went and had dinner with my family and my boyfriend, and as I had expected my dad was extremely cool towards me. A fight broke out at dinner between my mom and dad over something small but involving my actions the previous night and my dad went upstairs, expecting my mom and I to follow as was customary. Instead of following, I stayed were I was and spent time with Justin and my little brother William. When leaving my Dad made another comment to me in an attempt to manipulate me further and make me stay, but I didn’t. Those little steps of faith and not giving into my fathers demands were extremely difficult. Without the Lord giving me courage and strength, I would have given in and followed my father instead of the Lord.
Upon returning home form XSI, I realized that my dad had decided to give me the silent treatment. Which is fine, I won’t say that it didn’t hurt it did, but I refused to be manipulated again. I was reading in Matthew when a few verses hit me. Matthew 10:34-37 says that Jesus did not come to bring peace on Earth; rather he came to bring a sword. Jesus states that he comes to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother. I realize now that it is because He came to knock people out of their socks! To show them that their way of living was wrong, that it wasn’t the way He had intended it to be! He meant to shake things up, starting within the family, for if we cannot show by example how else can we show them? How can we possibly have successful, meaningful relationships when we do not have one with our creator? The Lord was meant to be first in our lives, not our families. And if our loyalty is to our families, then it cannot be to the Lord. But the Lord will provide, he promises that, and the Lord always keeps his promises.
Unfortunately the manipulation didn’t stop there. A fight ( I say fight and arument hesitently because to fight or to argue implies that I fought back where in this situation I actually agreed the majority of the time but I digress..) broke out the next day between my father and I as I attempted to break the silence and to talk to him about my moving out. I won’t go into as much detail with this argument I will just say this; my dad said some of the cruelest things he has ever said to me that night. I can still recall those words at a drop of a hat and hear them reverberating in my mind. They ripped at my heart, burning and scarring me until it felt as if I couldn’t take any more. My world was falling down around me and it was as if I was going to lose my family as I knew them if I didn’t submit to my dad. But in the midst of the tumbling walls and crashing lives, I was at peace.
“The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;…
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;…
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows…” Ps 23
But that night as I lay in bed praying that the Lord show me the way, his way, the biggest passage in Matthew that made an impact was Matthew 10:39 “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it”.
“He who as found his life will loose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” Matthew 10:39
My relationship with my dad is still rocky. This summer we were able to get past the arguments and manipulation. He is still paying for all the things that he believes I need in order to live comfortably. I now know that those things that he gives me to make my life more comfortable aren’t a necessity. My dad and I still fight. For example just last week I figured out it would take me an extra year to graduate (so what?) and he flipped out.. Big time. Not only did he hang up on me twice but he asked me to not call him back unless it was to tell him that he was right. I have called him back not to tell him that he is right but to let him know that I talked to financial aid and let him know that I love him. I am still battling and it won’t go away but I have the Lord on my side and he’s the One that created the world, not my dad. Frankly even if I lost all the aid my dad was giving my the Lord, who created the fucking universe, loves me and forgives me and wants a relationship with me. Spoiled, rotten, stubborn, manipulative, infantile me. My fucking cup is overflowing. The Lord has given me something that no one can ever take away and he loves me even though I bring nothing to the relationship. My fucking cup is overflowing.
I don’t want you getting the wrong idea here. I am SO thankful for my dad. I am so thankful that he was willing to give up his addiction for my family, that he is willing to try and help me even when he’s disappointed in me, that he is willing to try to pay for my college education for me. I am so thankful that he loves me and never beat me. I am SO thankful for my dad. I just want a better relationship with him. I don’t want to live for him anymore. I don’t want to live for myself or for my comfort. I want to live for the Lord. I am willing to give up my ‘life’ in order to live.
We go around so absorbed in our lives that we forget what is truly important. To live isn’t all of those things that make up our day to day lives. To live is to be in Christ. To live is to know His truly unconditional grace and love. To live is to know that He will always be there for us, seeking us out, forgiving us. To live is to show others the amazing love He has to offer and to learn more about Him and to live out His will, for it is by His will that we are even in existence. So I ask you dear reader once more; What is life?